A report by Amnesty International on the Ukrainian army has met with dismay in Kyiv and among some military experts. The Ukrainian Amnesty section is also appalled and criticized that it was ignored. Now the head of the Kiev office is taking action.
The head of the Ukrainian section of Amnesty International, Oksana Pokalchuk, has resigned after a controversial report by the human rights organization to the Ukrainian military. The lawyer announced this on Facebook. On Thursday, Amnesty International accused the Ukrainian army of unnecessarily endangering civilians with its military tactics.
"I am resigning from Amnesty International in Ukraine. This is another loss that the war has inflicted on me," Pokalchuk wrote. Anyone who doesn't live in a country being invaded and torn to pieces by invaders is unlikely to understand what it's like to condemn an army of defenders. And there are no words that can convey this to someone who has not felt this pain.
"Yesterday I still had the naïve hope that I could fix everything," writes Pokaltschuk on Facebook. That dozens of meetings could be held and opinions exchanged and the report would be deleted and another would appear in its place. "Today it became clear to me that that will not happen," said Pokaltschuk on Friday.
The Amnesty report criticizes the fact that Ukrainian soldiers take up positions in populated residential areas - including in schools and hospitals - or operate weapon systems there. However, martial law requires parties to a conflict to place military objects as far away from civilian facilities as possible. At the same time, Amnesty International admits: "In some places where, according to the human rights organization, Russia committed war crimes, there was no evidence of a presence of Ukrainian troops in the civilian areas illegally attacked by Russia - for example in some areas in Kharkiv."
Amnesty International's Ukrainian branch criticized that it was not involved in the preparation or writing of the report. Contrary to their request, the text was then published. The Ukrainian office did not translate the report into Ukrainian and did not post it on its website.
The Ukrainian government has sharply criticized the report. The human rights organization wants to "issue an amnesty for the terrorist state and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
According to the "Spiegel", military experts criticized the report as unrealistic. For example, Edward Arnold from the British think tank Royal United Services Institute found that only a few analysts took the report seriously. "Ukraine is defending population centers and Ukrainian citizens. The fighting is very urban. Therefore, Ukraine must use the tactics that this report considers wrong under the given circumstances," the magazine quoted the military expert as saying.
Despite the criticism, Amnesty International stands by the report. Secretary General Agnes Callamard also equated Ukrainian and Russian reports on Twitter. "Ukrainian and Russian social media mobs and trolls: they are all in the process of attacking Amnesty investigations today. It's called war propaganda, disinformation, misinformation."